During the pandemic, we all gained a bit more appreciation for grocery store clerks. And yet, they aren’t getting paid more than people who are not as directly connected to sustaining life, like astronomers or marketing managers.
Why? Because, while the function of those who distribute food is vital, they are deemed more easily replaceable than those in higher-earning positions. In other words, we may value them in a very real sense but not attach a proportionate amount of monetary value to their roles in society.
Jessie Bates was an absolute star in the Cincinnati Bengals’ incredible journey that ended with a late loss in the Super Bowl. He intercepted the very first pass thrown by Ryan Tannehill in the Divisional round against the Tennessee Titans, which clearly rattled the game manager QB and helped prevent Derrick Henry and company from controlling the tempo.
The free safety tipped the ball that was intercepted by Vonn Bell in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. Without his perfectly-executed play on the ball, it is likely that Tyreek Hill would have converted a third and long to immediately give Patrick Mahomes a first down in long field goal territory.
And Bates had three passes defended against the Las Vegas Raiders in a last-second Wild Card round win.
For those highlights and more, watch the video below:
Bates was everywhere in that glorious postseason run, and his elevated play was a big part of why the defense exceeded expectations in the postseason. And now, he’s been given the franchise tag, against his desires.
So why can’t a deal get done? Part of the problem, as was the case with Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, is that the Bengals don’t see the value of paying Bates like a top safety. While Cincinnati’s front office will pay top dollar for a quarterback, defensive lineman, or cornerback, they are reluctant to do so for every position.
On our show, John Sheeran had the following breakdown:
They don’t do this. They don’t give the kinds of deals that Jessie Bates. Not only Jessie Bates, but his representation. He’s got one of the most powerful agents in the game right now. His agent represents Jalen Ramsey. Do you think Jalen Ramsey took anything less than what he wanted from the Los Angeles Rams? Jessie Bates knows what other safeties are making. His agent knows what other safeties are making. And if Jessie Bates wants a contract that puts him up with the top safeties in the league, it’s not a contract the Bengals are prepared to give him.
While the Bengals are likely not offering the kind of guaranteed money Bates and his agent expect, they expect Bates to take the deal on account of the franchise’s known-loyalty to its players and reputation for honoring contracts (with rare exceptions). Further, the risk of injury in the upcoming season may give the team some leverage.
So will give in first? Sheeran had this to say:
I don’t think Jessie Bates is the player to make them change how they structure contracts and how they want to distribute guaranteed money, because it’s only in the signing bonus. And Jessie Bates rightfully wants more than that. And that’s why we have this stalemate that will last until July 15. And maybe that’s when the deal will come. Maybe Bates will say, ‘You know what, I’ll just take the Bengals’ deal.’ Maybe they make some minor adjustments to it. But I don’t think Bates will be the one to budget in that sense.
You can listen to the entire show below:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: